We’ve talked about kakistocracies before, haven’t we?
But, in case you’ve forgotten (and I know you’re all busy people) here’s the definition: “Government by the least suitable or competent citizens of a state.”
As regular readers will also know, I’m currently in America, where disturbing details of their own recent kakistocracy under Donald Trump are coming to light, as the committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol last January makes headway.
In his last days in office, Trump did a lot of firing of competent people and replacing them with deeply unsuitable ones. His bodyguard was put in charge of White House personnel.
A former marine with very little experience became Secretary of State for Defence, arguably the most important position in the cabinet. Their qualifications? Just one: unstinting loyalty to Trump.
And so to the UK…
There’s Dominic Raab, the Deputy PM (but also the Justice Minister, someone who should be, technically, interested in, you know, justice) saying that Boris Johnson’s disgraceful lies about Keir Starmer failing to prosecute Jimmy Savile – the same lies repeated by the right-wing mob who tried to attack Starmer last week – were just part of the “cut and thrust” of politics.
That they were, in effect, “just”.
There’s Nadine Dorries, the Minister for Digital and Culture, going around happily thinking that the internet has existed for “about 10 years”.
There’s Jacob Rees-Mogg being made Minister for Brexit Opportunities (the job title equivalent of Minister of Tartan Paint. Or Minister of Long Stands.)
That’s the same Rees-Mogg whose £8billion company Somerset Capital specializes in investment across “emerging markets” like China.
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Now, admittedly, this is closer to Putin’s kind of kleptocracy rather than a kakistocracy (kleptocracy: “A state of unrestrained political corruption, literally rule by thieves”) but, still, can you imagine Rees-Mogg fighting hard for the millions of Brexit voters whose lives have been made poorer by the decision to leave the EU?
A decision Rees-Mogg encouraged them to make, by the way. Nah, me neither.
There’s Liz Truss. The Foreign Secretary took a trip to Moscow and managed to destroy UK-Russia relations at a time when war is looming on the Ukrainian border. The whole thing would have been like an episode of Mr Bean if it wasn’t for the fa –
We need to stop there for a moment, don’t we?
We need to stop and ask ourselves: in what world could someone like Truss reach the position of foreign secretary? Like all her colleagues de ella I just mentioned, only in a world where the man who hires them requires just one skill set: total loyalty.
Here’s an interesting thought experiment to help you get a feel for the level of kakistocracy we’re living in these days…
Jack Monroe recently wrote about the appalling effects of inflation on food poverty in the UK.
She has now succeeded in getting supermarkets to pay attention to her, with Asda promising to stock its budget ranges in all 581 supermarkets and online.
The retailer said: “We want to help our customers’ budgets stretch further and have taken on board the comments about the availability of our Smart Price range made by Jack Monroe.”
There you had it: someone who genuinely knows what they are talking about (Monroe has lived in food poverty and written about it extensively) convincing the powerful to do something decent to help the less fortunate in society.
But last week there was another woman in the public eye making comments about a hot-button issue: TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp.
In a newspaper interview, she talked about young people and home ownership. She suggested that kids needed to give up luxuries such as Netflix, gym memberships and coffee if they wanted to be able to afford a house.
She also suggested people could move in with their parents or find homes up north in cheaper areas.
“When I bought my first property,” the foolish human doily went on, “the whole going abroad, easyJet, coffee, gym, Netflix lifestyle didn’t exist.”
Naturally, it didn’t take long with a calculator to find out that a first-time buyer who gave up a Starbucks latte every day, a Netflix subscription, a gym membership and two return flights to Europe on easyJet a year would save about £ 1600 annually.
According to Halifax, the average deposit for a first-time buyer is now £59,000.
That’s right – it would take someone in their 20s just 37 years of cutting out these luxuries in order to save up that kind of deposit.
They’d probably make it into their new place just in time for it to become their retirement home. Their new retirement home “up
north”, hundreds of miles away from the children who’ll soon need to be looking after them.
Similarly, it also didn’t take long with Google to find out that Allsopp’s father is Baron Allsopp, former chairman of the auction house Christie’s, and that she grew up in a privately educated life of privilege.
Oh, and her parents gave her the deposit for that first property she bought.
Again, there you have it: a clueless buffoon with absolutely no idea how ordinary people
live throwing around idiotic, patronizing and utterly unworkable comments about how they should run their lives.
So, here’s the thought experiment…
Which one of these women could you see being asked to serve in Johnson’s cabinet? Yep, me too.
Welcome to Downing Street, Madame Allsopp, the new Minister for Housing and Poverty.
You’ll fit right in around here.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.